Argentina seeks UN help to settle dispute over Malvinas islands

17:01, February 25, 2010      

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People hold up slogans during a rally protesting Britain's oil drilling plan in the disputed oil-rich Malvinas (Falkland) Islands, in Buenos Aires, Feb. 23, 2010. (Xinhua/Martin Zabala)

Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday to kickstart negotiations over the ownership of the Malvinas islands after Britain announced plans for oil exploration.

"The secretary-general knows about this issue," Jorge Taiana told reporters after his meeting with Ban at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

"He is not happy to learn that the situation is worsening and that's why I came here. He is willing to continue his good offices mission," he said.

The British company Desire Petroleum plc on Monday began drilling in the waters off the disputed islands, known to Argentineans as the Malvinas and to the British as the Falkland islands, reports said.

A readout issued later Wednesday by Ban's spokesperson said Ban expressed satisfaction at Argentina's commitment to resolving its dispute with Britain over the islands in a peaceful manner.

"He reiterated that his good offices are available when requested by all parties in a dispute," it said.

Tensions between the two countries have resurfaced since Britain announced it would begin exploring the waters around the disputed islands for oil.


People hold up slogans during a rally protesting Britain's oil drilling plan in the disputed oil-rich Malvinas (Falkland) Islands, in Buenos Aires, Feb. 23, 2010. (Xinhua/Martin Zabala)

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon following Taiana's UN visit, Britain's UN Ambassador Mark Grant said that his country "has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands."

"This position is underpinned by the principle of self- determination as set out in the UN Charter. We are also clear that the Falkland Islands Government is entitled to develop a hydrocarbons industry within its waters, and we support this legitimate business in Falklands' territory," Grant said.

Argentina's claim to the disputed territory of the Malvinas has been bolstered by the unanimous backing of 32 Latin American and Caribbean nations including Brazil, Mexico and Colombia.

Taiana said his government is pleased with past efforts made by Ban to engage Britain in starting negotiations but said the fact that Britain "didn't answer and respond positively is another issue."

Argentina and Britain have been at odds over the sovereignty of the islands for decades, and their dispute led to a 74-day war in 1982, which ended in the defeat of Argentina.

The Malvinas, or the Falklands as the British call it, are home to 3,000 people of British descent and is controlled by Britain, but Argentina maintains they are part of its Tierra del Fuego province.

Four British companies have been trying to explore oil in the waters off Malvinas after the 1982 war between Britain and Argentina, reports said.

Source: Xinhua
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